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Govt assesses foreign property law

Govt assesses foreign property law

090424_15.jpg
090424_15.jpg

New draft law on property may allow foreigners to purchase apartments, houses and condominiums above the second floor, say government officials and private sector

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

Foreigners may soon be permitted to own property in Cambodia if a new draft law is passed after consultation with the private sector.

THE government has drafted a law that could pave the way for foreign ownership of property in Cambodia, the minister of land management, urban planning and construction said Thursday.

Existing rules prohibit foreigners from owning land, which supporters say prevents speculation and price volatility. The proposed changes would allow for foreign ownership of houses, apartments and condominiums from the second floor up for resale. Foreigners would also be able to inherit property.

Minister Im Chhun Lim said on Thursday that the proposed law had been submitted to the private sector for feedback.

"We want this law to be passed as quickly as possible, but we need input from the private sector," Im Chhun Lim said. "The discussion with the private sector will focus on how many units and how much of the building can be bought, as well as which floors they can purchase," Im Chhun Lim said.

The government would also specify a zone near international borders in which foreigners would not be able to buy property, which would prevent foreign ownership of property in disputed areas.

Brett Sciaroni, partner at local law firm Sciaroni and Associates, said he attended a meeting at the Ministry of Economy and Finance and received the draft.

"[The draft law] is good for Cambodia because it will encourage investors to come and it will reinvigorate the real estate market, which has fallen significantly," Sciaroni said.

"It will be helpful for the economy if foreigners can own apartments and condominiums," he added.

Eang Sopheak, a lawyer at the Cambodia Asia Law Firm, said the change would boost property prices. He called for the government to clarify its stance on foreign rights for the sake of investors.  

"If the government passes this law, foreign investors living in Cambodia will have more confidence. They will want to own buildings; not just rent like they do currently," said Eang Sopheak. "I think foreigners should have the right to own buildings." He said the government needs to improve its enforcement of the Land Law.

"We have to be sure that our territory is legally guaranteed and properly listed," he said.  

But he said he is worried a the draft would affect border demarcation.

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